23 Best State Parks in Florida for Sightseeing, Hiking, Swimming, & More

Manatees swimming in a blue green water at Blue Spring State Park ,FL

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Planning for the ultimate escape to some of the diverse state parks in Florida? 

Get ready for a wild ride through the Sunshine State’s natural wonders! 

From lush forests and rolling hills up north to breathtaking coastlines that stretch for miles in the south, Florida’s state parks are a dream come true for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

In this guide, we’ve got you covered with all the detailed information you need to make your state park adventure a memorable one — whether you’re seeking heart-pumping thrills, a serene escape, or a chance to reconnect with nature.

So, buckle up, grab your hiking boots or your swimsuit (or both!), and explore the wonders that make Florida a true gem for those who love the outdoors.

Check out all of our Florida guides for the rest of your local travels and adventures.

Best Florida State Parks

If you’re wondering how many state parks are in Florida, there are a whopping 175 of them in the area!

We’ve compiled the best in this list mapped out by region, beginning with state parks in northern Florida, moving to central FL, and concluding in the Keys area in the south.

Check out our favorite Florida beach towns for even more natural beauty in the Sunshine State and be sure to enjoy springtime in Florida by going to several State Parks.

Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key State Park is located on Perdido Key, west of Pensacola on the Alabama Border.

The park is mainly known for its abundant shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico and the Old River, making water activities popular.

This state park in Pensacola is an easy spot to get away at the beach, go swimming, or — for the more adventurous — go surfing.

Visitors also have opportunities to fish and birdwatch in the park.

The park also has a hiking trail along the Old River, with a parking area along one of the residential streets near the park.

There are showers located between the parking lot and the beach.

If you’re looking to expand your adventure, check out the fun things to do in Pensacola.

Aerial view of Ono Island in Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key Beach, Florida

Blackwater River State Park

Blackwater River State Park is a Florida Panhandle state park measuring six hundred acres, located northeast of Pensacola.

The park has four and a half miles of flat hiking trails for hikers to enjoy, as well as thirty campsites for overnight visitors.

Other activities include fishing, geocaching, canoeing or kayaking, swimming, and tubing on the river.

The park has many sandbars on the river that make perfect spots for a quiet afternoon on the water, whether it be stationary or mobile.

For early-morning adventurers, seeing the wildlife may also be in the cards.

The park is home to a wide species of birds from tree birds like woodpeckers to wading birds like egrets and herons.

Three Rivers State Park

Three Rivers State Park is small but has lots to do.

The park is located just north of the city of Sneads on Lake Seminole.

The lake is made out of the Apalachicola, Flint, and Chattahoochee Rivers, which is where the park gets its name.

Lake Seminole is shared with Georgia and is big enough to accommodate all sorts of water activities.

Aside from water activities like fishing and paddling, the park has enough paved roads for bikers to enjoy it, and enough elevation difference for it to be a little bit of a challenge, too!

The park also has a reservable cabin, primitive campsites, and some short hiking trails.

Torreya State Park

Torreya State Park might be Florida’s most varied when it comes to elevation.

The park consists of a number of bluffs of the Apalachicola River between Blountstown and Chattahoochee.

Because of the geography, the park’s hiking experience might be the most well-rounded in all of Florida, with the park having over sixteen miles of trails through the hills.

Torreya also is home to the only yurt in all of Florida’s state parks, as well as thirty campsites for other lodging options.

Florida Caverns State Park

Staying in the same area, Florida Caverns State Park is located just north of Marianna.

The park has hiking and equestrian trail opportunities along the Chipola River, as well as aquatic activities.

But the park’s main attraction is its cave system.

The caves are open by tour only from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Located thirty feet below ground, the caves are lit with dim LED lights to preserve the dark ecosystem, and the tour takes visitors through twelve different rooms.

Florida Caverns is also a great opportunity for interested parties to see wildlife that live in caves, like bats, mice, and salamanders.

Note that the tours are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best to arrive early in the day.

Alfred B Maclay Gardens

Alfred B Maclay Gardens is located just north of Tallahassee and offers a great combination of the wild mixed with the man-made.

This park has plenty of places to obtain information about the things within it, from interpretive signs to historic sites to the museum.

The park has a few lakes and ponds for those interested in fishing and paddling; just note that not all of them are available for recreation.

The park also has way more multi-use trails than one would expect for a park centered around floral gardens, with over ten miles available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

The Maclay Gardens is also a popular event venue, with weddings and reunions happening all the time there.

Econfina River State Park

Econfina River State Park is a large state park in Florida, at just over four thousand five hundred acres.

The park is mainly known for its true wilderness experience, with fifteen miles of multi-use trails through the remote lowland forests of Florida’s forgotten coast.

The Econfina River also provides ample water opportunities for those looking to do some long-distance paddling or fishing.

Rarer wildlife can also be seen in this park including whitetail deer, fox, and even black bears.

Econfina River is a perfect place for visitors looking to find a quiet, traditional wilderness experience.

Amelia Island State Park

Another state park with a beach atmosphere, Amelia Island State Park is located at the southern end of Amelia Island and is one of Florida’s state parks near Jacksonville, located northeast of the town.

The park has one and a half miles of shoreline along Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean which provides many places for groups to use the beach for various activities.

The park has a canoe and kayak service provider along with Little Talbot Island and Big Talbot Island state parks just south of it.

The Nassau River is a perfect place for visitors to engage in water activities at the park.

Amelia Island near Fernandina Beach, Florida

Ravine Gardens State Park

Ravine Gardens State Park is located in the city of Palatka in northeastern Florida.

The park is similar to the Maclay Gardens, with the ability to host events like weddings and reunions, and has a more curated atmosphere.

The park is situated in a ravine and has many complex paths to get between areas of the park, including suspension and swinging bridges.

The park has over four miles of walking paths, all with highly varied plants on the left and right.

This is one of the best state parks near St. Augustine at just about 45 minutes drive away; check out our huge list of awesome things to do there if you’re in the area.

Manatee Springs State Park

If you’re on the lookout for Florida state parks with manatees, then head to Manatee Springs State Park.

Located along the Suwannee River, this stunning park is renowned for its crystal-clear spring water and attracts an abundance of West Indian manatees during the colder months.

Apart from the incredible manatee sightings, the park offers a range of recreational activities like swimming, boating, fishing, and even scuba diving.

For those who prefer to stay on land, the park features 8.5 miles of hiking trails that wind through the surrounding woodlands, offering scenic views and glimpses of native wildlife.

Camping in the area is also available.

Head to nearby Crystal River for an ethical tour to swim with manatees.

Price’s Scrub State Park

Price’s Scrub is a perfect place to get outside for visitors to Gainesville.

While the park may not have a very diverse list of activities, the park does provide a natural experience for prospective hikers.

The park has over nine miles of multi-use trails through wetlands, hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, and scrub habitats, all native to Florida.

Not to mention, while most Florida state parks have a fee to enter, Price’s Scrub is free because it gets such few visitors.

Silver Springs State Park

Just outside of Ocala is Silver Springs State Park.

True to its name, this is one of the Florida state parks with springs and offers opportunities for paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating tours.

Visitors can spend the whole day at Silver Springs, with multiple restaurants, a museum, and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking.

The park also offers a glimpse into history through the Cracker Village, which serves as a live exhibit portraying a town from 1890s Florida.

If you’d like to spend more time here, there are cozy cabins available for visitors to enjoy their stay.

This place is great for a family adventure or for those interested in the history and geology of central Florida.

Silver Springs is also features in our massive Florida bucket list guide.

Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park in Florida is a breathtaking oasis known for its crystal-clear waters and the largest spring on the St. Johns River.

Visitors can indulge in a variety of activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking in the refreshing spring waters.

Nature enthusiasts can also explore the park’s hiking trails and encounter an abundance of wildlife, including manatees that seek refuge in the warm waters during the winter months.

Blue Springs State Park is also one of our favorite things to do in Florida in the fall and in the winter.

Manatees swimming in a blue green water at Blue Spring State Park ,FL

North Peninsula State Park

Another central Florida state park that offers a more peaceful escape is North Peninsula State Park, located on the Atlantic coast just south of Flagler Beach.

North Peninsula provides a quiet beach spot for visitors to central Florida or for road-trippers traveling up or down the coast.

Swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities are common at this park.

For those interested in paddling, the Halifax River flanking the west side of the park has lots of calm wetlands to explore as well.

Aside from that, the park also has a two-mile hiking trail called the Coastal Strand Trail.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Similar to Silver Springs, Weeki Wachee Springs is a park experience more focused on pleasing crowds.

The park is home to the sometimes wacky underwater mermaid live performances that can occasionally be found in Florida.

The main park area is very curated with a gift shop, theater, banquet hall, restaurant, and playground.

Outside of the main area, the park has plenty of multi-use trails along the Weeki Wachee River.

The park offers boat cruises on the lake, which is where mermaid shows can be viewed and also frequently hosts weddings and reunions as well.

This is one of the most popular Florida State Parks near Orlando, in case you’re vacationing there and looking for day trips to take.

Egmont Key State Park

Egmont Key State Park is a state park near St. Petersburg and is unique as the only way to access it is by ferry.

A number of small ferries out of the St. Petersburg area provide service to this island, but there is no ferry from the Florida State Park Service.

Egmont Key is split between the state park and the national wildlife refuge, but the island promises a remote bird-viewing experience for interested parties.

It is also surrounded by a beach, which provides a great space for relaxing or walking.

The north end of Egmont Key used to be home to a fort, and remnants of it can be explored there, as well as the old lighthouse.

You may also want to explore St. Petersburg, FL, and find plenty of fun things to do there.

The Egmont Key lighthouse in Tampa Bay, Florida

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

The Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is a remote park in south-central Florida.

It provides true backcountry exploring for Florida residents and visitors on its 54,000 acres of land.

The park has a proper campground as well as three primitive camps: North Boundary, Cow Camp, and Prairie Loop.

This state park near Kissimmee prides itself as a stargazing destination since it is 24 miles from the nearest incorporated town.

Aside from camping and the hundred-plus mile trail system, the park also has buggy tours led by rangers that use the many miles of service roads in the park to showcase the wildlife there.

The park provides important access to true nature just a couple of hours from both of Florida’s densely populated coasts.

Lake June-In-Winter Scrub Preserve State Park

Lake June-In-Winter Scrub Preserve State Park is located just outside of the town of Lake Placid on Lake June-In-Winter.

Similar to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, the park focuses on an unfiltered natural experience.

The park is 845 acres and emphasizes activities like hiking, birding, and fishing.

The trails in the park show what Florida looked like before human settlement, with a combination of pine forests and heavy scrub on sandy soil.

Estero Bay Preserve State Park

For Florida state parks near Fort Myers, Estero Bay Preserve State Park is located just south with an area on land and underwater.

The park has two access points for hiking, and many access points for paddling, some of which are outside the park.

Estero Bay is full of islands for paddlers to explore and approach; there are also plenty of places for visitors to fish in the bay.

The park’s two sets of trails are completely separated; however, they are all multi-use, which means bikes and horses are allowed.

You may also like our list of things to do in Fort Myers, FL.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a perfect place for those staying in Miami to get a light outdoor experience.

The park is at the south end of Key Biscayne and is home to hiking trails, multiple miles of beach, a restaurant, and lots of inlets for paddling.

The park is centered around the Cape Florida Lighthouse, which is at the south end of the park.

The lighthouse dates back to 1825 and offers guided tours.

The park also has a bicycle rental system, perfect for those who flew into Miami and were looking for physical activity.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Similar to Estero Bay Preserve, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is both on land and underwater.

This Florida Keys state park is 53,000 acres, and more than 90% of those acres are water.

The park takes up the entire Atlantic side of Key Largo as well as some of the land on Key Largo.

Visitors can enjoy paddling, snorkeling, and boat tours at this state park, as most of it is underwater.

The park also has three reef systems accessible to scuba divers at 300 yards, a half mile, and over two miles out from shore for various experience levels.

Along the coast, the park also has three nature trails for those less excited about the water.

Long Key State Park

Moving into the Keys proper now, Long Key State Park is located just outside of Layton on Long Key.

The park has a couple of miles of trails, but since this is one of the state parks in Florida on the beach, the main attractions are the miles of beautiful coastline and calm inlets for paddling.

Other activities the park promotes are snorkeling, fishing, and swimming.

The park also has an excellent location for stargazing since Layton only has two hundred people living there, and the next towns are on other islands over five miles away.

Florida Keys Canoe Launch- Rental canoes and kayaks wait beside a launch area in Long Key State Park

Curry Hammock State Park

Curry Hammock State Park is a small park on Little Crawl Key not too far from Marathon, Florida.

Since Curry Hammock is also located in the Keys, this is one of the state parks in Southern Florida that offers plenty of water activities like paddling, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, star gazing, and enjoying the beach.

The park also has a small campground for overnight guests.

When it comes to paddling at the park, the ranger station has rentals on a first come first serve basis, making it easy to get out on the water.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park is the southernmost state park in the continental United States.

The park comprises the entirety of Bahia Honda Key and has similar amenities to the other parks in the Keys.

The campground is by far the largest of the Keys parks though, with eighty sites.

There are six cabins available in the park for reservation.

Visitors can enjoy the beach, go on a boat tour, explore the remains of the old Bahia Honda Bridge, and go out at night for stargazing as well.

Bahia Honda is a great getaway for almost any group vacationing in the Keys.

You may also like our free itinerary to Key West if you’re planning to visit the southernmost city in FL.

Blue skies over a half moon beach in Bahia Honda State Park in Florida

Final Thoughts

Did our Florida state parks list inspire you to visit some of these places?

Share your adventures, stories, or even let us know which park you’re most excited to explore in the comments below. 

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